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Serving: IN

Meat Grading Bill Could Be Big for Value-Added Agriculture

Beef cattle producers hail he bill as victory.

State officials can now grade meat in Indiana. He job is no longer left just to federal meat inspectors. That all changed with the legislature passed a bill containing that language, and Govern Mitch Daniels approved and signed the bill.

What the next legislation means is that the Indiana State Board of Animal Health now has he authority to apply quality grades on a voluntary basis for meat processed here in Indiana.

"We heard from beef producers all across Indiana that graded meat would benefit the industry," says Julia Wickard, executive director of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association. "Now state inspectors can perform this function on locally grown beef."

Senator Robert Jackman, R, Milroy, a veterinarian by trade, carried the bill for the industry. Other legislators on various committees were also instrumental in getting the bill passed. He represents a part of the state where there has been considerable interest in developing niche markets in raising and selling homegrown beef.

What happens now that the governor has signed the bill is that the beef industry will work closely with BOAH to see that it the new legislation and meat grading process is implemented correctly, but soon, Wickard says. She believes many farmers will want to take advantage of the opportunity to have beef graded and will be prepared to sell quality beef.

What the legislation does is give producers an opportunity to market beef products differently in Indiana that they have before, Wickard says. Now the various grades will appear on the meat, thanks to grading performed by a state inspector. The process of working through federal inspectors was mu8ch more cumbersome in most cases.

"What the legislature has done is combine economic development and value-added agriculture into one package," Wickard says. She added that not only herself, but many of he cattlemen she represents, are excited about the possibility, and hailed the new legislation as very positive for the livestock industry in Indiana.

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